Duvall celebrates anniversary with 2-HR game

Acquired 1 year ago, left fielder helps Braves boost division lead

July 31st, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Braves manager Brian Snitker has repeatedly praised for maintaining a strong work ethic and positive attitude as he spent most of this season’s first four months attempting to prove himself again back at the Minor League level.

But Snitker has also certainly appreciated the fact Duvall has returned and shown he still has some of the same talent he possessed when he was an All-Star for the Reds just three years ago.

“The end goal was to get back up here and compete at the highest level,” Duvall said. “So far, it’s been pleasing to see the hard work pay off.”

Duvall savored the sweet taste of satisfaction he felt while highlighting a four-hit performance with a pair of homers that helped Atlanta strengthen its National League East lead with an 11-8 win over the Nationals on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

“He’s one of those guys that’s really, really easy to pull for,” Snitker said. “It’s just good when a guy goes about it the right way, like he did. He got himself back and got confidence. You just remember the player he was before last year, and it was really good.”

While helping the Braves regain a 5 1/2-game division lead over second-place Washington, Duvall singled during a four-run third and homered off Nats starter Erick Fedde during a four-run fourth. The former All-Star outfielder added a seventh-inning solo shot off Javy Guerra and stroked a single in the eighth to finish 4-for-5 on the night.

Duvall’s first multihomer game since 2017 came on the one-year anniversary of a trade that might no longer look ill-fated if he continues to produce over the season’s final two months. The 30-year-old outfielder was hoping to make his mark when the Braves acquired him from the Reds last year. Instead, Duvall constructed a meager .344 OPS over last season’s final two months, and he has spent the past four months attempting to get back to the big leagues.

“It wasn’t the easiest thing, but I knew I had to go down there and do the work and just try to get better,” Duvall said. “At the end of the day, the most important thing was to get better.”

Duvall tallied 29 homers over 94 games for Triple-A Gwinnett this season and would have likely still been down at that level had not fractured his left wrist on Friday night. With Markakis out until at least mid-September and struggling mightily, Atlanta may attempt to add another outfielder before Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

But Duvall has provided some encouraging signs, as he has gone 9-for-17 with three homers since returning to the Majors on Saturday. It’s not like he hasn’t tasted success at this level before: Duvall registered a second consecutive 30-homer season in 2017.

“He’s off to a nice start since he’s been back,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “He’s obviously doing a very nice job. This isn’t a surprise because this is the player he was. If you look at his career, the outlier was 2018.”